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Golf teaching and playing articles > Putting club in correct swing path is critical

15 Jan 2004

Last week we talked about the five Ball Flight Laws.  Today we will look at Path in more detail.


Defined as the direction the golf club is traveling at impact, Path primarily influences the starting direction of the ball.  Let’s look at what that means to you as a golfer.


Imagine standing on a road with a white line painted down the center, and you were going to hit a golf ball down that road.  A right handed golfer (opposite for left handed) would be standing on the left side of that line (the left hand lane) and the ball would be sitting on the line.


 If as you swing, your club approaches the ball from the side of the line where you are standing that is called the inside Path (or inside/out).  When the club is traveling parallel to the white line when it contacts the ball, the Path is straight.  If the club crosses over the white line and hits the ball from the other side of the line that would be an outside Path (or outside/in).


Here is a situation one of my students faced, the problem that caused it, and the solution.


 Merry, an accomplished golfer with a low handicap was preparing to defend her Club Championship. She had been struggling with hitting drives that started to the right of where she intended.


I had her work on shoulder alignment, because shoulders are the primary factor controlling Path. Even with the feet correctly aimed, when the shoulders are misaligned, the club follows the line of the shoulders and is traveling inside/out at impact with the ball pushing to the right of the target immediately. 


Continuing to aim this way would cause her to change the swing Path while in motion by incorrectly using her shoulders (sometimes called coming over the top), or by manipulating the club head with the hands, trying to correct the error at impact. 


To correct your shoulder alignment error lay down two clubs parallel to each other, one on the far side of the golf ball, and the other along your toe line.  After you set up and are ready to swing, glance down at the club near your toe line and see if your shoulders are aiming the same direction.  You can view this drill on my website.


Merry has a tendency to misalign her shoulders right of her intended target. All golfers have tendencies that they drift into.  By understanding your tendencies and knowing how they make the ball react will quickly allow you to make the correct adjustment on the golf course and keep that score under control.